Tagged: expansion

Mists of Pandaria is the best expansion the World of Warcraft has ever seen! Except for Wrath of the Lich King, of course, but it’s right up there.

In all seriousness, a combination of wanting to spend time with my long-time online friends and playing World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria has brought me, Molsan, back to WoW after a ten-month hiatus. There’s something to be said about an addition to or a new version of a game that resurrects your basic love of the game while exceeding your expectations as a new product and experience.

MoP has offered something that previous expansions didn’t: hope. Blizzard has taken a cue from Bane, from The Dark Knight Rises:

I will feed its people hope to poison their souls.

Blizzard, though the Mists of Pandaria, is feeding its players hope, luring them into the mists, only to turn around and crush their pixelated dreams. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but this is the big difference between MoP and previous expansions. There was always the tease of “what evil lurks.” We weren’t prepared for Outland, Arthas was waiting on his throne for us in Northrend, and Deathwing soared between heaven and hell all over Azeroth.

Mists of Pandaria has offered players… a new beginning. A fresh start. Forests and sprites. Pets and flowers and more fish. Right? That’s it… just the same game that we’ve been playing for eight years? I, along with the veterans of the game, know that this will not last for long. However, it’s a welcome change after years of beginning your journey with death and destruction.

From a technical standpoint, Blizzard continues to be humble with their game design, particularly from the questing perspective. They have incorporated lessons learned and as well as brand new ways to tell a story and engage players. For example, the “Scouting Report” Grookin Hill quests for the Horde were awesome. Each step of the mini quest line was unique and challenging, but had just enough hand-holding so that the instructions and expectations for each quest were easy to understand.

I’ve also noticed that there’s been an increased amount of quests that include voice acting. Blizzard prides itself in having a tremendous amount of audio goodness and you know they were going to show Bioware how it was done. What I liked about the voice acting in MoP is that it’s used when it can enhance a quest experience. It’s not used as a marketing and game play crutch the way Star Wars: The Old Republic did.

MoP offers a mixture of familiarity with new, epic experiences. It offers more of what we love about this genre, giving players young and old a chance to play the game however they like. While the game balance and war between the casual and hardcore rages on, there truly is something for everyone. I also have to give credit to Blizzard for one of the smoothest expansion/patch launches of all time. I had no downtime at all as the game polymorph-panda’d into MoP. Their model of upgrading the game to a major release just before the launch of the expansion continues to be successful.

It is the same game. But better. That’s why we love it.

Originally posted on May 9, 2008.

News about the next expansion to World of Warcraft (titled “Wrath of the Lich King”) broke last night: Details on Death Knightsvideos of the new zones, and the continuation of the token reward system. One particular item has my appetite for the expansion completely wet though: all raids in the expansion will be tuned and made available to both groups of 10 and 25 playersWorldofwar.net reported about this after their presentation at Blizzard headquarters with Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan:

At this point, Kaplan revealed the massive news that Blizzard are changing the way raids are done in Northrend, and making them similar to the 5 man instances, whereby they can be played on two levels of difficulty. All 25 man raids will also be available as 10 man raids. The loot tables will be completely different, the 25 man raids will have better and/or more loot, but this means that most players will get to see the end game content in the 10 man version, if not the 25 man one. He went on to explain the reasons behind this; Karazhan, the 10 man instance in the Burning Crusade, was the most popular instance in the game by far. The 10 man dungeons are obviously popular due to the fewer amount of players needed, and the easier difficulty level. Secondly, a lot of 25 man raiding guilds did not like to have to go through the 10 man raids to get access to the 25 man raids. This new system should please everybody (but I’m certain there will be the usual QQers!). Another interesting fact is that the 10 man raids and the 25 man raids will be on totally separate cool downs. This means that once a guild has completed the 25 man Naxxramas for example, they could go back and complete the 10 man version of it on the same day if they wish.

Hearing this has totally enhanced my anticipation for the expansion! How cool will it be to be able to experience all the game has to offer with groups of 5 (quests/dungeons/heroics) and 10 people (raids)? I’ve been reading about the arguments for “epic” raids, where certain bosses (like the Lich King) shouldn’t be made available for only 10 people. My thoughts are just the opposite: defeating a boss or completing a difficult quest chain with a smaller group feels more epic to me.

In a group of 25 (or think back to 40-person groups), your role and class is one of many. There are typically 2-4 tanks, 5-6 healers, many DPSers, etc. Yes, what you are attempting to defeat has a higher number of HPs, but it doesn’t feel more difficult or epic than a challenging objective with fewer people.

I’m so excited after reading this! It’s a great solution that caters to people that want to group up in large numbers or small. Great job, Blizzard!